Greetings from the great, wet north!
A long overdue wilderness blog from Big Hook, September, 2021.
First and foremost: a huge thank you to all of our customers that have gone to amazing lengths to string together a 2021 trip. Things at the border are reportedly going smoothly now… wait times are typical for any year, the pre-travel tests have been going well, and the required ArriveCan app has taught a few folks about Canadian postal code customs (P0V 2M0 =’s PzeroV 2Mzero not P ‘oh V…). Save one group of southern gentlemen who affectionately called a female border officer “Honey,” there has been little in the way of excitement in the travel department. Apparently the officer preferred “Ma’am.”
The weather… the weather has been weathery. As most are aware, Northwestern Ontario had been facing one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. My flight in with 2021 Big Hook pilot, Dan, had us squinting to find land marks through the smoke and left us with scratchy eyes and dry throats our first few days around camp in early August.
Within a few days, however, the monsoons began. And continued right up through our closing week with 3-4 day drenchers at a time. I have never seen such a wet August (or any month) at Big Hook. The lake levels came up more than two feet!
The deep, deep low pressure system that kicked off the rains seemed to have the fish in a little funk for our first customer who came to Canada on the border reopening day of August 8th. He caught (and cleaned) fish for he, Dan, and I every night which was much appreciated as we were working long days getting the other camps open. The fishing just wasn’t up to Big Hook standards, however. Then, on day four, the skies parted and the fishing has been gangbusters ever since. As he described it, “the fish are everywhere.”
Now amassing a (short) season’s worth or reports, I can relay stories of ravenous walleyes and voracious pike (not to mention BIG). Large catch numbers in the 100’s per day were reported by several groups. A mid-August group at West boated more than forty northerns over 30” – with five in the 35”-40” class and a half dozen that were 40”+. Their largest stretched the width of the boat at 44”. Their hot bait was a red and white Kastmaster.
Several big pike were caught and released at Burnt Lake also. A September group there tied into a pair of 40”ers on black and white Rapalas (7”).
Hot baits for walleye included perch colored Hot N’ Tots and 3/8oz jigs – any and all colors were reportedly working well.
There were several breaks in the otherwise wet weather that allowed Big Hook staff to get out and complete a number of projects including an exterior facelift at West, a new dock and porch flooring at South, a power grid upgrade at Central, and a new outhouse location at Cocos.
It was so wonderful to see the camps open and busy again. I think everyone agreed outpost fishing with close family and friends was about the best thing to happen in the last 18 months. We’ve already begun our countdown to 2022 for those who weren’t able to join us this year. I, for one, can’t wait!
With the camps buttoned up and the plane in dry dock, I’ll sign off for the season. Looking forward to being in contact with many of you through the fall, winter, and spring.
Happy Fall everyone,